I own a web design business in Kansas. Shortly after moving to an area which is only served by AT&T, I received a telephone call from a representative stating that he was an authorized representative for AT&T.
He explained the reason for his call was because he was authorized to offer AT&T Small Business customers a discount of 30% on their long distance bill. He stated that all AT&T Small Business customers were supposed to be offered the discount upon signing up for AT&T services.
I asked him 3 or 4 times "and you work for AT&T?" Which he responded matter of factly, yes, I am an AT&T representative. He had me verify both lines I have for my business and then said I had to participate in a recorded verification procedure to authorize the discounted services.
During the recording, one of the statements is that I understood I would be billed on behalf SILV Communications, not associated with AT&T. At which time I said "I thought you were a rep of AT&T", and he said "I am". We finish the verification and hang up.
He then calls back and says, "I'm sorry but the recording got cut-off at the end and my supervisor is requiring me to re-record it." This time, I don't question the association with AT&T during the verification recording.
I then immediately called AT&T to verify the call. I was told that AT&T did not call. Then the AT&T rep told me that they recieve phone calls about this all the time, but that I would probably not have any recourse because the slammer had a verification recording. They offered to make notes on my account stating that I didn't want my long distance service changed.
I called again a week later, and again another week later to verify I still had AT&T. Each time they made notes on my account - each time the rep told me they deal with calls like this all the time.
I thought I had avoided the issues and then AT&T billed me $200 for early termination of my contract, and USBI on behalf of SILV Communications billed me $80 per month for 2 months on my AT&T bill.
When I called AT&T to verify which dates I had called (after filing a slamming claim) - I was informed from the AT&T rep that AT&T has "Slamming Protection" available if I would like to be transferred to the billing department to add it to my account.
The information I have obtained so far:
USBI is an independent billing agent for various telecom companies. SILV Communications uses third party telemarketers to sell their services. The customer service manager (third person I spoke with) stated that they are not AT&T representatives and that it is clearly stated (allbeit very quickly!) that they are not AT&T during the verification recording.
SILV Communications has been part of the public utilities commission's claim process 3 times in the last 2 years, and has been found not liable for slamming. They continue to apply for authorization in additional states to be telecom providers. California just approved them this month.
According to the Federal Trade Commission's rules, the verification procedure has to be someone other than the salesman. Though I don't know how I'd prove that it wasn't.
It's against the Federal Do Not Call rules if you have registered your number - the catch: after 31 days of registering. They called me in 27 days.
AT&T: If they are aware of this "deceptive marketing", and they are aware that the claim will be found unconstituted, and AT&T profits from not warning their customers - are they not liable? How do these other companies get the AT&T new customer information within the time period of the "do not call" regulations? How come I was not offered your "Slamming Protection" during my first three calls about the possible slamming?!
SILV Communications: Why will you not provide information on your independent telemarketers? Why do you state the exact requirement to get out of slamming claims? Who tells the telemarketers what techniques to use to sell your service?
USBI: Your name is being slung all over the place associated with deceptive marketing/billing...why are you not suing the companies you are acting on behalf of to save your name?
I believe AT&T is aware, and possibly aiding the other companies. I believe AT&T has profited greatly from the early termination fees and that they are the highest player in the scheme.
SILV Communications is also associated with Miller Isar Inc., Regulatory Consultants - who is stated on one of SILV Communications financial statements, as being an "Other liability" - and who's employees are stated as the President and Vice President of SILV Communications.
By the way, SILV Communications owner is located in the UK.
Did I mention the correlation I suspect with AT&T? On the Miller Isar Inc. website it states in Andrew Isar's biography:
"Mr. Isar serves as Vice President State Regulation to the Association of Communications Enterprises (ASCENT), as such he assisted in the early development of ASCENTs forerunner organization, the Telecommunications Resellers Association. He was formerly with AT&T's Washington State Law and Government Affairs group. He assumed responsibility for the representation of policy and regulatory issues before the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. "
If anyone calls you claiming to be your phone company: get the name and employee number, then hang up and call your phone company and ask to speak to the rep.
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on AT&T